People in coastal Texas and Houston area are bracing for at least 15 inches of more rain as Harvey gains strength in the fourth day of the historic storm that submerged large swathes of territory and devastated neighborhoods.
Pictures of flooded highways and disappearing trucks laid bare the extent of the storm in the Houston area, where nearly 7 million people reside. Close to 2,000 people in imminent danger were rescued and thousand of others in critical situations are waiting for help. The Category 4 hurricane followed by incessant rain also crippled many rescue workers for a state that was unprepared for a disaster that enormous.
President Donald J. Trump went to Texas to monitor the rescue efforts on the ground.
No agency could accurately measure the extent of the devastation so far, let alone address it. Authorities acknowledge that they still have no idea how many people are still trapped and need immediate rescue.
Disruption in communication lines and electricity also makes it difficult to reach people in need. Texas authorities asked people to hang towels or sheets on rooftops if they are awaiting rescue since it is hard to find addresses. People are asked not to call 911 if they are not in imminent danger.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the storm is one of the largest disasters America has ever faced. “We need to recognize it will be a new normal, a new and different normal for this entire region.”
At the moment, rescue workers only provide essential help — rescuing people from flooded houses, giving shelter, food, and water.
Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long said on Monday that he was anticipating nearly half a million people applying for federal assistance.
“We’re going to be here for several years helping you guys recover. The state of Texas is about to undergo one of the largest recovery housing missions the nation has ever seen,” Mr. Long said.
Authorities were under fire for failing to announce the scope of the disaster in advance. Texas governor defended the state’s plan not to evacuate everyone from the area since that situation would unleash tremendous chaos and require massive preparation and infrastructure that the state is unable to handle.
FEMA is shipping two million liters of water and two million meals to the region. American Red Cross, along with dozens of local and national relief agencies have mobilized efforts to support the victims. Celebrities and big corporations joined the cause by donating big checks. Volunteers from other states joined the rescue efforts. Texas mobilized 12,000 National Guards troops to help victims stranded in flooded houses.